It was a showdown on ESPN. Both pitcher’s started out great but the Chicago Cubs would eventually come alive in the batter’s box. John Lackey, along with Jason Heyward, returned to St. Louis for the first time in a Cubs uniform. He got the best of his former team.
Veteran right-hander John Lackey (3-0, 3.66 ERA) looked very comfortable in St. Louis. Not only did he ring up 11 batter’s across seven innings of work but he held the Cardinals (7-6) to four hits and even drove in a run to help the Cubs (10-3) claim the series opener Monday night on ESPN.
Things were slow early on for both sides as Lackey and Mike Leake (0-2, 5.71 ERA) were retiring hitters left and right. Outfielder Dexter Fowler led off the game with his fourth double of the season, putting himself in scoring position with another former Cardinal in Jason Heyward due up behind him.
As expected, Heyward was welcomed with a swarm of boos. Despite finishing the contest 0-for-4 with a strikeout, he made a couple of impressive diving plays in right field to prevent what could have been extra bases. Lackey showed some appreciation for his teammate, pointing out to him following each play.
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After cruising through this Cubs lineup early on, Leake was finally tagged in the sixth. Fowler, who doubled in the first, drilled his third home run of the season to right-center field, giving Lackey a one-run lead.
Soon after Lackey rolled through the sixth, Chicago’s offense kicked it into second gear by scoring three runs in the seventh. Third baseman Kris Bryant and veteran catcher Miguel Montero strung a pair of singles to lead off the frame, giving Jorge Soler a shot at driving in a run.
Instead, the Chicago Cubs would receive their second run of the ballgame on a throwing error by shortstop Aledmys Diaz that went over the head of first baseman Brandon Moss allowing Bryant to cross home plate safely with no outs in the inning.
Following shortstop Addison Russell‘s sacrifice fly out to center fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker, Lackey made it a four-run ballgame with an RBI single to left field, driving in pinch-runner Matt Szczur from third. Szczur could make the start out in left field tomorrow over Soler.
Second baseman Ben Zobrist‘s only hit helped put the nail in the coffin as he shot a pitch out to left field for Chicago’s second leadoff double of the evening. He would later come around to score on an RBI single off the bat of Bryant.
Cubs skipper Joe Maddon rolled with southpaw Travis Wood to start the home half of the eighth inning. Wood has pitched extremely well to start the season and continued to do so tonight. He struck out two and gave up a double to Matt Carpenter before Pedro Strop took over to notch the final out of the frame.